Railroad Injury/FELA Archives - Page 6 of 8 - Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp
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If I’m injured while working for the railroad by a defective part of a locomotive or car, do I have to be able to prove the specific defect to have a case under the FELA, Locomotive Inspection Act or Safety Appliance Act?

 

            The FELA is the general law which protects railroad workers who are hurt while working for a railroad.  The Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA) and Safety Appliance Act (SAA) are amendments to the FELA.  Those regulations provide generally a railroad is strictly liable to an employee injured by a defective part or condition on a locomotive or railcar.  This means if an employee establishes that such a defect caused his or her injury, any contributory negligence or lack of reasonable care on the part of the railroad are not essential to the claim.  The claim focuses solely on the defective part or condition.  There are two methods for an employee to establish a part of a locomotive or railcar was "defective" for LIA or SAA coverage.  The first is through evidence of the cause of the defect in the equipment, such as a missing pin in a coupler.  The second is through evidence the equipment did not "operate as intended" at the time of the injury, such a brake wheel which unexpectedly catches or releases.  The employee's description of the failure of equipment may be enough to establish a case under these circumstances, but the more supporting evidence the better, particularly testimony from eyewitnesses to the failure of the equipment.

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If I am hurt while working for the railroad do I need to file an accident/injury report with the company to have a case?

The short answer to this question is "No".  A FELA case does not typically depend on whether an accident report was filed with the company, but failure to do so may have other consequences.  Most railroads have internal rules that require the filing of an accident report by an injured employee (if they are physically able) prior to leaving duty on the day of the injury.  Failure to comply with this rule may result in company-imposed discipline.  Usually an accident report also helps in the investigation of a claim.  It contains specific factual details about the injury such as the location and identity of the equipment involved in the incident.  If any question arises whether such a report should be filed, it is a good idea to consult with union leaders to discuss the facts surrounding the specific incident.  They are typically knowledgeable of the reporting requirements of the railroad.  It is the rule of the particular railroad that require the filing of an accident report, not the FELA.  So whether a case exists which we could provide help to an injured worker does not depend on the filing of an accident/injury report.

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I was just diagnosed with cancer or mesothelioma. No one ever told me before that it was connected to railroad work I did many years earlier. Can I still bring a railroad injury or disease claim?

As explained in one of the other FAQ’s, the three-year limitation period does not begin until the worker knew or should have known of a connection between the cancer or disease and their railroad occupation.  If no medical professional or other person ever provided a clue to the worker that they had a claim, more than three years before now, three-year limitation period should not have expired but you need a railroad injury attorney’s advice for a more precise answer.About the editors: The motto at Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan law firm is simple -“All we do is injury law.” We hope you were able to find the answer to your injury query. If not, please review our Virginia Accident Lawyer FAQ Library for additional information. If you’d like to speak to an actual attorney about your potential injury claim for free, please contact our office at (833) 997-1774.

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I was a cigarette smoker for decades and wound up diagnosed with mesothelioma. Does my smoking mean I can’t bring a claim against my employer?

There are many medical studies that show that cigarette smoking has nothing to do with the cause of mesothelioma cancer, which is virtually exclusively related to having prior asbestos exposure in your work career or during your lifetime. 
With regard to lung cancer, cigarette smoking is a known cause of lung cancer, but asbestos is also a carcinogen and also a known cause of lung cancer. 
Many medical studies showed that workers who were significant smokers, and who also had asbestos exposure, had a 50 to 80 fold relative risk increase over non-smoking/non-asbestos workers, in contracting lung cancer.  This is called “synergy” and makes the risk of lung cancer extremely great for smokers who breathed asbestos, and most had no idea that their risk of lung cancer was so vastly increased because of the mix between smoking and asbestos fibers.
To learn more, check out this article titled: Railroad Asbestos Mesothelioma/Cancer and the Link to Smoking
 

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